Admit it: You talk to yourself, too. I’m not the only person on the planet who walks around chatting merrily when no one else is within earshot. Not the only guy sharing thoughts aloud with myself, solving ridiculously complex problems, having a long conversation with the lunatic in my attic, the squishy cortical computer housed inside my skull. Not a bad metaphor, when you think about it. We all need someone to talk to, and that nutcase inside our head case seems to start jabbering away at the drop of a ball cap anyway, which happens a lot. So what do we do? That’s right, we start answering. Out loud. Admit it.
Not a thing wrong with it. In this so called modern age we all need someone to talk to, someone who actually listens. Who better than the crazy aunt upstairs who seems to understand us best? And who responds right away! It’s one reason social media (which aren’t all that social in my opinion), why FaceBook, and Twitter, and Instagram, and TikTok and the rest are so damnably successful: They give us a chance to talk to others, to transfer the craziness inside our heads into halfway coherent words, and then sploosh them out into the universe! All this while offering the illusion that others are actually listening! Much better to swap stories with the one person in the universe who really gets you, and where you’re coming from.
So instead of being stuck blabbering to the one person we trust almost all the time–ourselves–except perhaps when we’re avoiding a recent gaffe, such as not replacing the damn toilet paper roll again, or buying off-brand yogurt instead of Yoplait, her favorite, we can chatter all day long in contented soliloquy, solving the world’s most complex and challenging issues, and cheering ourselves up for how clever we are.
Feel a bit self conscious while talking to yourself? Yeah, me too. Picture this: Sunday morning early, wife still abed, world outside reasonably silent, dog sprawled at your feet, and you’re chatting away about the latest idiocy by you know who, or the incredible deal you made yesterday swapping your old drill press for the neighbor’s chain saw, or the snarky musing that spills from your mouth about what you’d do to that dumb as a bag of hair son of a buck Ted Nugent given half a chance…when the wife’s voice comes at you from the kitchen. “Who are you talking to?”
It is to chill at that moment, is it not? “Just thinking out loud, dear. Didn’t realize you were up.” No need for embarrassment, really. She does it, too. We all engage in soliloquy. We do it to make sense of the crazy, twisted, and getting twisteder world we inhabit just now. That torrent of thoughts and emotions and problems and solutions cascades through our brain pans, forcing our mouth muscles to engage. We launch into asides and self-comforting orations automatically.
Indeed, the most famous soliloquy in the English Language came about because a young Danish prince reached a mental boiling point over the remarriage of his conniving, regicidal uncle to his seeming accomplice mum. He didn’t internalize his crisis of conscience, at least not in act 3, no. He talked to himself! “To be or not to be, that is the question,” Hamlet said, aloud, in a his famous aside. “Whether it be nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take up arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing, end them.” Nobler ‘in the mind,‘ Prince Hamlet said. But he spoke the words aloud. Hey, if Shakespeare can talk to himself, I say the rest of us can bloody well indulge.
Besides, if you’re chattering along, a soliloquy spilling from your cheeks like a Shakespearean sonnet, in concert with your crazy uncle upstairs, enjoy it! If the two of you are well on the way to solving the riddle of the next travel destination, or debating if there’s intelligent life on the third planet from the sun, or whether or not you got taken by your neighbor since the damn chain saw needs a whole new blade and they’re a hundred bucks, and while so engaged in soliloquy the neighbor himself stares at you from the nearby driveway, fuggetaboutit! He does it, too! Earlier that day, I’d wager, he was muttering to himself about what a chump you are!
Here’s a bit of comfort. It’s commonplace these days to see people walking around with BlueTooth buds in their ears, chittering away to themselves. Do you know there’s someone on the other end of that conversation? You do not. Do you trust that there is? Yes, you do. We used to think talking to oneself was a sign that the porch light was on, but no one was home. That the speaker was off her meds, or likely lived out of a grocery cart parked under a bridge. We’d look the other way, avoid eye contact, hoping the loony person meandered on, left us alone, and didn’t collar us to share their evidence. “I have evidence!”
Nowadays we think nothing of people muttering away, shaking their heads at some mystery voice (whether or not there’s evidence to be shared), enjoying a good laugh at whatever voice they’re hearing. Look for the earbuds, the modern if miniature hiding place so many of us retreat into.
So when the urge to soliloquize comes along, get the buds out, pop them in your ear canal, hide in your cocoon, and chat away, I say. Just pretend you’re deep in conversation with your broker, or your travel agent, or your kid’s school principal. Or maybe some crazy uncle who’s locked up in the attic, screaming to get out. Everyone does it. Thanks for reading.